Once Upon a Time” TV Series VFX Breakdown

Since it’s first season in 2011 to Season 7 in 2017, Zoic Studios has contributed a wide range of fantastical visual effects for ABC’s hit fantasy-drama television series “Once Upon a Time.” Using a multi-tiered approach, the Zoic team utilizes both their Los Angeles and Vancouver studios to create imaginatively vivid virtual sets, memorable CG characters of beloved fairy tale icons, and action-packed VFX scenes.

The team employs a wide range of visual effects techniques, including extensive green screen, motion captures, virtual sets, flying rigs, keyframe characters, virtual characters and numerous CG effects including large-scale water, fire and rain work. Layers of texture go into every frame and the ultimate outcome is talking puppets, terrifying trolls, and heart-stopping dragons.

To deliver shots on budget and on an accelerated timeframe, Zoic utilizes their proprietary virtual production pipeline, ZEUS. The system is a pre-visualization process that combines the benefits of real-time compositing with an integrated editorial and CG pipeline, providing real-time camera tracking and rendering of virtual environments on set.

A specially designed iPad app allows the director the ability to go into the space and visualize what the virtual set will look like in a given scene and set camera angles appropriate for the scene’s actions.

In 2012, Zoic’s VFX work for the show was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program and a Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program, Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Broadcast Program and Outstanding Models in a Broadcast Program. The team was also nominated for a 2013 Visual Effects Society Award for Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program.

In 2017, Zoic team delivered VFX for Season 7.


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